Every day Labour MPs in Westminster attack the government on a whole range of perceived issues. It’s easy to listen to them and take them seriously if you’re not as politically inclined, but it must be remembered that, in Wales, Labour has been front and centre since 1999.
Since the advent of devolution, Welsh Labour has been virtually unopposed in government. They’ve never managed to win outright so have often relied on the support of Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats, both seemingly reluctant to accept their part of the mess we’re in.
But what has Labour done that makes their arguments in Westminster almost void and what is so bad about their time in office?
Firstly, Labour always spews out rhetoric about the NHS. “Only Labour can save the NHS”, “the Tories will sell off the NHS” and so on. This is all well and good, but in Wales, 5/7 Welsh health boards are in special measures and Betsi Cadwaladr in North Wales have been for 5 years; that’s the equivalent of an entire government term. It’s also the case that in recent years, the highest level of NHS privatisation took place under Labour. Their rhetoric hits closer to home than they would realise. Welsh Labour is the only government in modern times to have ever cut an NHS budget, by £1 billion. Yet they constantly claim we are cutting the NHS when it’s simply not true. No modern-day Conservative government has ever cut an NHS budget. Finally, on the NHS, as recently as July 2020 the Welsh government introduced a system where you now have to book an appointment to use A&E services, putting lives at risk even when ambulance waiting times are already at a record high. Welsh Labour have failed the NHS.
Secondly is schools, the bedrock of our society. Without them, we’d have no careers at all. It’s a disgrace that under Labour rule, Wales has the lowest-achieving, poorest education system in the entire UK. Per-pupil funding in Wales is on average £678 lower than in England. In my own home of the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, per-pupil funding is around £200 less than the rest of Wales as apparently, we don’t have the same needs as other areas. This is scandalous and is harming the opportunities of every single child in Wales. There was a solution to this funding shortage. The Welsh government earmarked £450 million for schools, but the catch was not a penny of it reached a single school. Where’s the money gone? Usually, we ask Labour “where’s the money coming from?” But this government, it’s very much a case of “where’s the money gone?” Finally, in the 2017 and 2019 elections, Labour promised to abolish tuition fees in England, but just a few weeks before the 2017 election the Labour Party in the Assembly voted to increase tuition fees in Wales. This is a party and a Welsh government that faces two ways on their key issues.
Thirdly is a topic Labour like to think they’re big on, the environment. Young people looked at Labour to solve the climate emergency but if they had looked to Wales, they’d see a very different government. Yes, they declared a climate emergency at a cabinet meeting in 2019 but they decided to save it for any other business. This highlights how little they truly care about climate change. They chose to declare the emergency without taking any real action in policy terms. Their preservation of the natural environment is also flawed, they all voted against stopping the dumping of nuclear mud in Cardiff bay, established Natural Resources Wales which has cost the taxpayers millions of pounds, failed to invest in proper flood defences and presided over a 28% increase in cattle slaughtering at the end of August 2019 due to a rise in bovine TB. And finally, pollution now causes 2000 deaths a year in Wales. Despite the UK being the fastest decarbonising nation in the G7, Welsh Labour has only cut carbon emissions in Wales by half the UK rate. On the climate and environment, Labour has categorically failed.
Additionally on the list is housing. Housing is immensely important. As recently as the 2019 general election, Jeremy Corbyn pledged 100,000 new council houses every year. Now that sounds like a massive figure but you must remember that Welsh Labour managed to build a staggering 57 council houses in 2019. They love to talk the talk but when it comes to walking, they’re out of their depths. And in Wales, there has been a 45% increase in rough sleeping under Labour.
And last but certainly not least, the economy. That touchy subject that no Labour politician understands. £144 million wasted on reports and reviews into the much needed M4 relief road in Newport. A Labour policy that was shelved by Mark Drakeford last year despite that astonishing figure being spent on it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Welsh government is now contemplating a congestion charge on the M4 because of the gridlock. If only we had a relief road. The relief road would have eased congestion and would have unlocked a new era of opportunities in the region, allowing more people to travel in and out of Newport to work and set up businesses. Speaking of business the Welsh Labour government, backed on this by Plaid and the Liberals, are seriously considering a tourism tax for Wales which would drive the seasonal tourists away from areas like Barry island in my local area and our other seaside towns and tourist hot spots, hitting the small businesses hardest with no extra income every summer.
With this in mind, it’s clear to see that Labour, no matter what form it takes, cannot be trusted to run so much a lemonade stand at a county fair. This catalogue of failures must be stopped and the cure is to Vote for Paul Davies and the Welsh Conservative Party in May 2021.